A potent tincture with a lovely orange essence sums up the Sidecar, a classic Cognac cocktail with a provenance dating back to WWI.
This retro drink may also be shaken with a great bourbon or Armagnac (French brandy) in lieu of Cognac. Serve it up in your finest coup and demand all the good snacks be passed in your direction!
In an effort to plow through the heaps of fresh lemons I was gifted just before Christmas, I juiced a bunch and picked out a good cocktail. Enter stage right, the Sidecar.
Some close to the industry might argue that it’s the booze that makes this speakeasy libation what it is, and to a degree I agree. But in this case, I’m standing by my statement in that the perfect match of flavors begins with the lemons.
There’s really no good substitute for fresh lemon juice. I juice one regular lemon together with two Meyer lemons (Meyers are smaller) and stir them.
This way, I’ve got a base that is slightly sour yet pleasantly sweet and will yield two to four drinks. Superfine sugar to rim my glass is always an option if I need it all that much sweeter.
I find I prefer this simple architected cocktail built from a better bottle in my collection and a few humble pieces of bar fruit, no sugared rim. A Sidecar isn’t meant to be sweet.
Quality counts, so when reaching for a cognac, make it a VSOP or Armagnac. You may also opt for your best bourbon in lieu of cognac altogether. Cointreau is the only orange liqueur I buy, but in a pinch, Harlequin or Triple Sec will work.
Ingredients for A Classic Sidecar
- VSOP Cognac, Armagnac, or a very good bourbon
- fresh lemon juice
- fresh Meyer lemon juice
optional for garnish
- superfine sugar for rimming glassware
- cocktail cherries, orange peel, or both
What Bar Tools Do I Need for A Sidecar?
Ready for this? A shaker. Now, if you want to serve properly, a swank coup and some silver swizzle pics will go a long way in terms of presentation, but it’s the libation here that counts.
Aside from a shaker, you’ll need to juice your lemons, so a juicer at least. I like to juice, stir, then refrigerate to get the juice nice and chilled. Your choice.
How to Make a Sidecar Cocktail
Juice the Fruit
Juice your regular lemon together with the juice of a Meyer lemon or two. If you cannot find Meyer lemons, it’s not a deal breaker in terms of this cocktail’s success.
Sugar-Coat the Rims of Your Coups
This is optional, but you may want to consider preparing sugar-rimmed cocktail glasses in the case of no Meyer lemon availability. Or, if you enjoy a particularly ‘puckery’ drink, go commando.
Make a slit in a lemon wedge. Run the cut around the rim of your coup and then dip the juiced rim into a shallow plate or bowl of superfine sugar. Place the coup into the refrigerator to chill until you’re ready, being careful not to dislodge that sugar crust.
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juices until ICY COLD. Strain into your prepared coups and officially kick off your party 😉
If you’ve ever tasted a whiskey sour, the Sidecar is very similar but a bit richer with the use of a quality cognac.
Ten seconds. When shaking a cocktail with ice shake ONLY until the shaker becomes cold in your hands, about ten seconds. You’ll thoroughly chill the liquor while avoiding a watered-down libation from ice melt.
No. Not seasonal, although I tend to shake it up for guests during the holidays, especially New Year’s Eve. But because it’s served cold, it makes for a bright refreshment in the heat of summer, too.
The Classic Sidecar Cocktail
- Cocktail Shaker
- coup glass
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) VSOP Cognac may substitute Armagnac or a very good bourbon
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) Cointreau
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) lemon juice 1 lemon and 1 Meyer lemon, freshly squeezed; a combination of both juices
optional for serving/garnish
- cocktail cherries
- cocktail candied orange peel
- superfine sugar for rimming glassware
- Juice a regular lemon together with a Meyer lemon and mix. If you cannot find Meyer lemons, it’s okay to just use the juice of the regular lemon but consider rimming your glassware with superfine sugar.
- To sugar-coat a rim, make a slit in a lemon wedge. Run the cut around the rim, then dip the juiced rim into a shallow plate of superfine sugar. Place the coup into the refrigerator to chill until you’re ready to use.
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake Cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juices until ICY COLD, about 10 seconds. Strain into your prepared coups. Garnish with candied cocktail fruits if desired.